This Fighter Pilot Running For Congress Is The Hero We Need

by Christine Burke
McGrath/Facebook Christine Burke

Recently, a friend sent me a link to a campaign video with a message that simply said, “You have to watch this with your daughter.”

My day was busy and I was in the midst of carpool logistics and school activities but I took a moment and watched the video.

And I immediately started crying.

My daughter entered the room and asked me why my face was filled with tears.

Together, we watched Amy McGrath’s campaign video and soon, we were both crying tears of joy.

Amy, we are here for your campaign 100%.

In her moving video, McGrath details how she knew from the age of twelve that she wanted to fly fighter jets and “land on air craft carriers” for the U.S. military. But, at the time, women still weren’t allowed to fly in combat. She says in her video that she wrote to every person on the House and Senate Armed Services Committee, begging them to change the laws banning women from fighting in combat.

“I told them they just hadn’t met me yet,” she says to the camera. And, she cheekily informs the audience that she never heard back from her Senator, Mitch McConnell.

Nevertheless, McGrath persisted. And boy, did she persevere. McGrath spent 20 years as United States Marine and she became the first woman to fly an F-18 in combat. She flew in 89 combat missions against the Taliban Al-Queda.

And she landed on air craft carriers.

Her message is clear: girl power is a real thing and women are strong, despite what the patriarchy tells us on the daily.

And now McGrath is running for a Congressional seat in Kentucky’s Sixth District, challenging Republican Andy Barr, hoping to incur a long overdue upset to our Congress.

When the video ended, my daughter looked at me, with tears brimming in her eyes, and said, “Mommy, she’s like me! They told her she couldn’t be a fighter pilot and people have told me I’m not strong enough to be a police officer!” I hugged her close and was grateful that Amy McGrath has chosen to show up for the little girls of our nation.

Remember her name, because she’s going places. And to say Amy McGrath is a badass is a total understatement.

When I watched her campaign video, I cried tears of joy that I was finally seeing a female candidate who had a message for not only me, but my little girl too.

I cried because I was that 12-year-old girl, too, the one who was told she couldn’t complete chemistry experiments because “you don’t have a boy’s mind.”

My heart filled with hope because my little girl has been told over the years that her dream of being a police officer won’t be realized because of her small stature.

And, when my daughter shyly asked if she could write a letter to McGrath and tell her how much her campaign meant to her, I tried not to do the ugly cry in my kitchen as I watched my not-so-little girl enclose $20 of her allowance money with her letter.

Christine Burke

My daughter has been dreaming of joining the police force since she could barely walk. And, when I hear people tell her that she should pick a safer line of work, or worse, when they tell her she should pick a career that won’t interfere with having a family, I want to scream.

In her letter she wrote,

Dear Mrs. McGrath,

My name is Genevieve, I am 12, and I live in Pennsylvania, and even though I don’t live in Kentucky I completely support you in your fight to Congress. I really want to be a police officer when I grow up, and I was recently told that I could not be one. Your video has inspired me, and shown me that no matter what, if I work hard enough, and keep fighting, I can become anything I want. There may be doubters, but because of that video, I’m prepared. Thank you for inspiring me.

Best wishes,

Genevieve, of Pennsylvania

I’m not going to lie: it was a proud mom moment when she came to me with her letter.

I can’t believe that, in this day and age, little girls are still struggling to find role models who lift them up and help them believe that they, too, will change the world with their contributions as an adult.

I applaud Amy not only for her bravery as a soldier, but also as a woman willing to stand up and make the world a better place for our kids.

Admittedly, I wandered around for months after the presidential election, wondering how our country seemed to have gotten so far off track. How had we let our country become so broken? It was months until I was able to see past my funk: the only way we are going to see real change for our daughters is if we throw our hats into the political ring and make some shit happen. Stir the Congressional pots. Shake the campaign finance trees. Raise holy hell in the name of our daughters feeling empowered to take on the world.

I am giving Amy McGrath a slow clap for being the badass mom who decided to take political matters into your own hands. Thank you for not only selflessly giving to your country with your military service, but for also preparing to fight the good fight on your way to Congress. It’ll be an uphill battle, yes, but I know an amazing little girl who supports you wholeheartedly.

And the smile on her face when you not only wrote back but also featured her letter on your Facebook page, says that you’re on the right track.

Take notes, Mitch McConnell.

Amy McGrath is coming and we are here for her, 100%.

Christine Burke